Know Your Water Use
Use water like it’s a precious commodity, because it is!
Every drop counts! Whether you’re on “city” water or have your own well, the benefits of conserving water add up:
- If you’re on a municipal water meter, your water bill will go down.
- If you’re on a well, you’ll have water for drier times of year like late summer/early fall.
- Regardless of the source, you’ll save money on the electricity it takes to pump and heat water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water can account for 12% of a home’s annual energy use, or about $264 for an average home.
See the tips in the Resources section for easy ways to cut your water use.
Easy ways to reduce your household water use
- Take shorter showers.
- Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving; turning off the water while brushing can save up to 8 gallons a day, or 240 gallons a month!
- Use a bucket to collect cold water at the start of a shower and use the water for plants or animals.
- Use dehumidifier water for watering plants.
- Scrape dishes instead of rinsing before loading the dishwasher; pre-rinsing can use up to 20 gallons of water. Soak baked-on or burned dishes.
- Avoid using the “rinse and hold” feature on the dishwasher, which uses 3–7 gallons of water without cleaning your dishes.
- More tips for efficient dishwasher (& refrigerator) use: U.S. Department of Energy.
- Use less water when washing dishes by starting with just a little water in the dishpan. Use a dishpan to catch rinse water and then soak the dishes as you go.
- Do full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.
- Clean your driveway and walks with a broom instead of the hose.
Check out this video from National Geographic on water saving tips.
Water is a limited and precious commodity, and much of the world doesn’t even have access to clean water. The less you use, the more there will be for everyone, and you’ll save money on water and energy bills.
What activities in my household use the most water?
Most water is used in the bathroom —showering, running water at the sink and using the toilet account for over 50% of household water use. Washing clothes uses the next highest amount of water, 27%. Changing your water use in the bathroom and making sure you are doing full loads of laundry is a good place to start saving water.
Will my dishes really get clean if I just scrape them instead of rinsing them?
Using a spatula to get most food off the dishes is often just as good as pre-rinsing them. But if you don’t run the dishwasher soon after it is loaded, tough foods like melted cheese may be a problem. Try the spatula first. Also, if your dishwasher is less than 10 years old, it probably has a soil sensor, which automatically adjusts the wash cycle based on the soil load. If the dishwasher senses a relatively clean load, it can adjust the cycle to use less energy and/or water.
I love my showers! Is there way to cut water use but still take a long shower?
Yes, if you must! Most showerheads are rated at 2.5 gallons per minute. Low-flow showerheads let less water through and still provide a great shower. Here’s info on how to install a high efficiency shower head.